Light posting today as Mr and Mrs AsiaPundit were having beer this evening at one of Asia’s 25 million British-styled pubs. However, we offer some of the best Asian beer posts in the past few days.
The good: Manish at Sepia Mutiny recounts the origin of India Pale Ale, which AP often cites when making an argument that the British Empire did bring good things to the continent.:
After the British East India Company had established itself in India… it had a large number of troops and civilians demanding beer… Ships typically left London, cruised south past the equator along the coast of Africa, rounded the Cape of Good Hope and then crossed the Indian Ocean to reach Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras. The temperature fluctuations were huge, it was a very long trip (about 6 months) and the rough waters of southern Africa resulted in an extremely violent voyage…
Early shipments to India contained bottled porters, the favorite beer in London, which generally arrived flat, musty, and sour… Hodgson took his pale ale recipe, increased the hop content considerably, and raised the alcohol content. The result was a very bitter, alcoholic, and sparkling pale ale that could survive the challenges of travel and shelf life in India.
High hop levels can preserve a beer’s flavor in two ways: they have a limited ability to protect beer from spoilage by some microorganisms, and, more importantly, their bitterness can mask stale flavors. While the beer arriving in India would certainly have suffered from oxidative staling during the long voyage, it could still taste acceptable because of the masking effect of alcohol and hops.
The Bad: One of the better lagers in Southeast Asia is losing market share in its home country:
I love cradling the squat brown bottle in my hand, seeing the beads of condensation gathered around the engraved logo, feeling the first slug hit the back of my throat … most of all, I love San Miguel Pale Pilsen for the very reason that Filipinos are deserting it in droves, because it is quintessentially and timelessly Filipino.
Unfortunately, quintessentially and timelessly Filipino is not what today’s beer drinker is looking for. According to yesterday’s paper:
San Miguel Pale Pilsen, the flagship beer of San Miguel Corp. in the ubiquitous squat brown bottle, has seen its market share dwindle to a record low of 29 percent as of September 2005, according to records obtained from the Bureau of Internal Revenue.
Asia’s oldest brew, Pale Pilsen, which is exported to other countries and rated as one of the world’s largest selling beers, has been on a downtrend since 2001, when its market share hit 50.76 percent—and further tumbled to 39 percent in 2003.
From 50.6% to 29% in four years is a precipitous decline. There is nothing surprising about this though. Like beer drinkers from Covent Garden to Greenwich Village, Philippine drinkers are looking for that chic beer style. I can’t blame them. When I lived in Britain, my fridge was full of French, Czech, and German beer, not Carling Black Label.
However, when it comes to the squat brown bottle I’m bucking the trend. I guess I’ve drunk more San Miguel Pale than any other brand and I’m not stopping now! Apart from the attributes I mentioned above, San Miguel Pale Pilsen tastes better better than any beer I know. I shall just have to drink harder to make up that deficit.
The Ugly: Much like a opening a box of crackerjacks, the excitement of having a brew in Taiwan is enhanced by not knowing what you are going to find inside:
While there probably isn’t a solution at the bottom of that bottle of Taiwan Beer that you’re enjoying, the Taipei Times reports that there’s a pretty good chance you’ll find something in there.
"Over the past few years, a "condom-like" object, live insects, dead cockroaches, cigarette butts, bottle caps and betel nut shreds have all been discovered in bottles of the nation’s favorite brew, Li said."
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Mao: The Unknown Story - by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday:
A controversial and damning biography of the Helmsman.
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January 19th, 2006 at 10:25 am
There is a plague of goddamn British and Irish “kit pubs” in this part of the world. I’ve had it (even though I am half Brit). I demand the following:
More American style sports bars devoted to American football and baseball memorabilia. Enough Man U, Liverpool and rugby crap (although I enjoy a fine rugby game).
More American inner-city, charmless dives, so I relive my grad-school drinking days.
And, just for variety, more German restaurants!
Down with the British kit pubs!
January 19th, 2006 at 9:09 pm
While it’s true that Taiwan Beer has a quality control problem, its one redeeming quality is the Taiwan Beer Bar, in Taipei at the brewery, where you can get 500mL for 50 NT ($1.50 US) and a liter for twice that. I’m willing to take my chances at that price.